Emmy-winning composer Earle Hagen dies

Wrote, whistled 'Andy Griffith' theme song

Earle Hagen, Emmy-winning composer of some of the most memorable musical themes in TV history and the man heard whistling the theme song of "The Andy Griffith Show," died Monday of natural causes at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He was 88.

In addition to writing the folksy "Andy Griffith" tune, Hagen penned the themes for "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "The Danny Thomas Show," "I Spy," "That Girl," "The Mod Squad" and "Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer," many for famed TV director Sheldon Leonard.

Hagen composed original music for more than 3,000 episodes during his TV career, which spanned more than three decades.

The composer also was active in the film business, mostly as an arranger and orchestrator for 20th Century Fox. He received a 1960 Oscar nomination (shared with Lionel Newman) as musical director for the Marilyn Monroe film "Let's Make Love."

Hagen, who played trombone with the Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey orchestras, composed the jazz standard "Harlem Nocturne." Written in 1939 for big-band leader Ray Noble, the tune went on to be recorded by Les Brown, Glenn Miller, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Ray Anthony and many other bands.

Hagen also was an author and educator, penning one of the first how-to books for aspiring film composers and later leading the film-scoring workshop for performing-rights organization BMI for a decade in the 1980s and '90s.

Hagen became TV's leading composer of the 1960s and '70s. His other series included "The Bill Dana Show," "Rango," "The Guns of Will Sonnett" and "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman." He contributed music to such other shows as "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," "Eight Is Enough" and "The Dukes of Hazzard."

For "I Spy," which was shot on location around the world with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby, Hagen produced his most colorful scores, often flavored with the ethnic music of the Far East, Mexico or the Caribbean. Hagen received Emmy nominations for all three seasons of the show and won for the "Laya" episode in 1968.

Hagen's wife of 59 years, the former Elouise Sidwell, died in 2002. Survivors include his second wife, the former Laura Roberts; two sons, Deane Hagen and James Hagen, both of Palm Desert, Calif.; three stepchildren and four grandchildren.
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